Friday, March 06, 2009

My Old Man

This is my Dad two summers ago, when he was just a lad of seventy five.

He's really something.

Some things I can say about my Dad.

I've never heard him make an excuse.

I've never heard him whine about anything.

I've never heard him raise his voice.

He never raised his hand against any of us.

He makes Gary Bettman look like a nattering nabob of negativity.

You could count the number of days of work he missed in his life on one hand and have fingers to spare.

He has built an entire building by himself, right from scratch.

He was scouted by the Red Wings way back in the day. He was a terrific athlete but hockey was his best and favourite sport.

His favourite players growing up were Max Bentley and Stan Musial.

He grew up as the oldest of six. They moved from the Soo to Franz. Franz was in the middle of nowhere. Dad comes from a line of men whose idea of a good time was to get as far away from civilization as possible. He has carried on the tradition.

Dad enjoys life. He's an optimist. He is getting to the age now where he's lost some very good friends. One of his brothers passed nearly five years ago now and this year he lost a sister in law and a good friend to cancer. And yet he carries on. Not much else you can do, he would say. Its going to happen to us all. That doesn't make it easy in any way but its a good reminder to enjoy your time here.

Before you get the wrong idea now Dad isn't one of those guys with little cheerful notes on the fridge or on his keychain exhorting him to seize the day. He's no Type A guy running around with a big smile and a hearty handshake for everyone.

He's just a regular guy who enjoys the hell out of the one life he has. He knows that things can always get worse so there's no use complaining. May as well enjoy yourself and do your best to make things better.

He's an optimist and as a result, so am I.


So even tonight as the Oilers are getting their heads handed to them by the Sens (although Gagner has just scored - btw check this out from Jonathan Willis) and Marty Gerber is shutting out the Caps, I wanted to take a look at the trade deadline.

There's probably no bigger day in the NHL and I think that includes the draft. The serious hockey junkie will follow draft day but even the casual fan is aware of what happens on deadline day. How could they not with wall to wall coverage everywhere that you look.

And you know why? Because of hope, that's why. On deadline day every team can sell hope. The contenders can point to their acquisitions and how these are going to make the difference come the spring or they can point to not doing anything and tell their fans that they are good enough already. Bottom feeders can move UFAs and veterans for kids and draft picks for the future.

And the bubble teams try and negotiate that particular minefield. If they are smart and able then when the day is over their fans are happy.

If you blow the deadline, like Kevin Lowe did two years ago then you can end up with a mess on your hands. If you can't sell hope then you haven't a chance.


The Oilers were winners this year at the deadline as they somehow managed to turn 20 games of Erik Cole and a fifth round pick into a nice young player in Patrick O'Sullivan and 20 games of Ales Kotalik. The response to the trade from Sheldon Souray leads me to believe that Cole was a very popular guy with his teammates and Cole's own response was both gracious and revealing; when he was acquired he was happy to come to Edmonton and his last words before he departed were not those of someone who was disgruntled or unhappy with the experience. That's good news.

This trade is bad news for Robert Nilsson and Dustin Penner who are both likely on their way out of town. Nilsson for sure. And it may be bad news for Craig MacTavish as well. This team has been a flawed one from day one but the biggest issue lately has been goal scoring and special teams. With Cole being replaced by not one, but two young guys who can score some, if this team fails to make the playoffs then MacT is going to take the fall.

I mean this team is young but so is Chicago. Right?

Anyways they are still flawed (now adding to this after the Oilers lost to the Sens) but its a work in progress. Right?

Anyways, as for the rest of the league.

I've never been a big fan of Oli Jokinen. He racked up most of his big numbers in the SE and was called a cancer in the room in Florida and in Phoenix (!) but I still think he's a decent acquisition for the Flames. And Leopold is a very good defenceman, I think. A big price to pay for the Finn but this may be the best Flames team in the Sutter era and now is the time to take a chance I would say. They're close to Detroit/San Jose territory and they have a lot of guys who may soon hit the downside of their careers. Better go for it now. They might be first round and out but I think only Detroit and San Jose are better clubs. So why wouldn't you roll the dice? I like Lombardi but I think Jokinen makes them a better club.

Vancouver stood pat but to me Sundin was their acquisition just as the Devils picked up Havelid and the Habs picked up Schneider. I know Gainey got ripped by a lot of people, especially the genius McGuire, but I think he looks at this team and knows that in the end it will be Price's return to form, or lack thereof, that will determine their fate. They are a middle of the road team. The good news is that like Toronto and Vancouver he will have the room to move this summer and he has some nice building blocks in place.

Vancouver though, by signing Burrows to a terrific contract and already adding Sundin, they're a winner.

Chicago, Columbus, Boston and San Jose all added some nice pieces in relatively minor deals.

Phoenix made out very well, picking up a plethora of picks, prospects and players for a backup goalie, a pest with a penchant for taking dummy penalties and two veterans who don't fit in their plans.

And you know who else did a good job? Buffalo. Seriously. This is a club that has shipped out or lost a lot of players the last few years, much like Wild on Jack Lemaire. Just like Backstrom the contract for Connolly was an overpay but the club can afford it, has room under the cap to make it work and has sent a message to the team (who cheered when the signing was announced) and their fans that they will spend money to retain players, even a guy like Connolly, who, like me, hurts himself getting out of bed.

Big losers? The Rangers, who shipped out three young cheap players for Derek Morris. The Antropov pickup was a good one but its becoming pretty clear that Sather may have just been lucky back in the day.

And the NHL, Gary Bettman and the Lightning. I am sure that it will come out that the NHL is bankrolling Tampa just as they are helping out the Yotes; there was talk back before Christmas that Tampa was having a hard time meeting payroll. What I wonder is what other owners think about all of these loopholes that you could drive a Zamboni through (my kids love Zambonis!) in order to qualify for revenue sharing. Buying up your own tickets, selling draft picks, what's next???

Remind my AGAIN why there are teams in these markets?

Even Dad couldn't say anything positive about this mess.


Olivier said...

"I know Gainey got ripped by a lot of people, especially the genius McGuire, but I think he looks at this team and knows that in the end it will be Price's return to form, or lack thereof, that will determine their fate."

Heh. If McGuire think you did badly, then you are doing something right. Tanguay (was there a better player traded at the deadline?) comes back tonight and Latendresse comes back in a week or 2; those aren't superstars, but they push the dregs out of the lineup. Halak is ready to step in Price's job for now They won't bring the cup home, but they'll be fine.

Concerning an old Oilers favourite: Sad to say, but Laraque getting hurt for the remainder of the year is a good news too. Still able to beat anybody into a pulp, but with the gloves on, he's a liability, plain and simple. I've been wondering; has George ever been a contributor on the ice? If so, when did he fall of a cliff?

hunter1909 said...

Your old man looks strong as an ox. Look at those shoulders! Most guys 20 years younger don't even have shoulders by that age, I'll bet. Reminds me of a now dead uncle(his grandfather had been an original mountie lol), chopping ice like a 25 year old aged 73.

As a bandwagon Rangers fan, no way do they lose by dumping and of those lame assed losers to the Yotes. I know the rags blow, but that's more to the Redden/Gomez/Naslund contracts and Jim(I'm a tool) Dolan getting jerked off by Slats since wtf took over. Slats is so past it as a hockey man it's scary these days.

All of my hard core Ranger pals are over the moon to be rid of Prucha etc.

hunter1909 said...


Black Dog said...

Olivier - he had his moments and I would guess a little more dedication might have made those moments more plentiful.

But in the '06 run he was probably a scratch as much as he played and when he played he was usually on the bench. I wasn't unhappy when he left. Great guy but for the money he wanted (and got) he wasn't worth it.

Hunter - old man strength, that's what we call it

Well, I'll defer to you on the Rangers - Prucha had a damn good year as a rook though and Kalinin was decent with Les Sabres. And I do like Dawes.

I just don't think they're going anywhere and moving young cheap players is not a good idea, imo.

Sather did his best work with NY after the lockout when he had a budget. As soon as the cap went up he became a dummy again.

hunter1909 said...

The biggest knock on the rags is they play like a bunch of gentlemen. Easiest team in hockey to play against, under Renney at any rate.

My bandwagon fandom is strictly for all the wrong reasons, having gone to school there during that post cup uselessness - honestly if there ever was a more fucked up team I've never seen it - Messier reading the paper during practice, for example.

You're right about Sather. He had the Rangers set up then went out and blew more money on lame asses like Redden, who makes Horcoff look like Joe Thornton by comparison for value.

Oddly enough I'd love the Leafs to win the cup. If people think Ranger fans are

Myself, I like the Leafs also. Toronto is just a shit hot hockey town, and deserves a cup like none other.

But for pure endless hate, I just think of that flaming C.

Johnson said...

I love the old man strength comments. My friends and I know about old mand strength as well except we call it dad strength. All Dads know how to fix things, understand insurance policies, know how to buy a used car, have big veins in their hands, laugh at stupid commercials, etc.

Anyway, love the blog keep it up!

Black Dog said...

Thanks Johnson appreciate it.

Hunter - what do you think about those Renney rumours then? (ducks)